At a time when J&K political leaders meeting with PM, NSA is attending meeting at SCO alongwith NSA Pakistan, Ceasire promise has been kept by Pakistan and India, Peace activists getting hopeful that future may belong to a better environment where Peace will sustain.
Peace activists have sent a letter to the Ministry of External Affairs with many suggestions that need to be taken for cross border prisoners as guarantee under human rights and also on humanitarian grounds.
Renowned academician, activist and Nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Prof. Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary of Gandhi Global Family Ram Mohan Rai, Advocate Nitin Mittoo, National Youth Project Coordinator Sanjay Rai and Aaghaz-e-Dosti founder Ravi Nitesh have written the letter and they received endorsements of many others in this move. Other endorsee includes names like Padma Shri Dr S P Verma (Jammu), Renowned Activist Surrender Pal Singh (Panchkula), Dr Pawan Thapar, Sanjay Garg (MLA, Saharanpur), Qazi Anisul Haq (Banglore), Pushpa S (Banglore), Parveen Tanwar (Bikaner), Gandhian activist P. Maruthi (Chennai), Mahadev Vidrohi (Former Chairperson- Sarv Seva Sangh), Rishi Sharma (Manipur), Jrjum Ete (Arunachal Pradesh), Vittal Rao (Gen Sec- World Council of Arya Samaj), Veena Behan, Muddasir Hasan (Srinagar), Satyapal (President-South Asian Fraternity), Sibaprasad Routray (Odisha) and many others.
This letter includes suggestions:
a. Indo-Pak Joint Judicial committee which was formed in year 2007 be revived without any delay and it should take decision on the above mentioned issues as soon as possible. Its meeting couldn’t happen since year 2013 and obligation is upon Pakistan. Govt. of India must take this up with Pakistan through more possible and frequent means and through public forums as well to put pressure upon Pakistan government to organise the meeting.
In case, the Indo-Pak Joint Judicial committee could not be revived quickly, following measures should be taken/explored even if it needs to be taken unilaterally:
b. The list of prisoners and fishermen should be made public by joint efforts of both the governments as sometimes even family members don’t know about their family members who are detained in jail of other side. Along with this, there is also a chance that advocates and civil society members would like to take such cases of cross border prisoners to offer legal and humanitarian support.
c. Opening of an Online Portal on the official site of the external affairs ministry or separately which can be updated from time to time as per arrest of new persons, release of existing prisoners and with updated case status.
d. For civilian prisoners, whose sentence already been completed, they should be released after formalities without any delay as their illegal detention will only cause hindrances of their right to life which is enshrined in the Article 21 of the Constitution of India. These documentation formalities, identity confirmation should be expedited and if require a separate team can be formed.
e. In the impact of COVID-19 in every part of the world, For the Pakistani civilian prisoners in Indian jails, minor crimes should be waived off as goodwill gesture towards Neighbouring country and for other crimes, review should be done and Judicial Committee can take decision to offer parole. Same should be asked with Pakistan for Indian prisoners held in Pakistani jails. Same can also be thought upon for prisoners of other countries held in Indian jails.
f. Also, for prisoners who have only six months pending in completion of sentence, they can be repatriated in their home country for pending six months jail term or as per repatriation of prisoner policy of respective states with transfer of sentence to be served in their home country. This can also be done with other countries also.
g. Fishermen who are lodged on Indian side should be released immediately as they are not criminals and there are no such criminal charges against them. They have been caught in the sea while doing fishing and in recent years also, fishermen have been released by both sides of governments.
h. Indian fishermen are jailed in large numbers in Pakistan and their boats are also seized. As per the information received, there are about 1110 fishing boats which are believed to be in captivity of Pakistan and the Ministry through Judicial Committee or separately should initiate efforts that these fishermen should be released and all the boats in captivity of Pakistan should also be released soon so that fishermen can get their resources back to survive livelihood.
i. We also appeals that government of India should prepare a joint plan with Government of Pakistan to deal with issues of prisoners and fishermen for a permanent solution. Fishermen being caught at sea should be freed in sea with minimum penalties and their boats should not be confiscated. Similarly, civilians who cross over territories or stay longer than visa validity can be repatriated with minor penalties. Teenagers, women, deaf and dumb persons should be considered for speedy release after investigation.
j. As there are large number of undertrials, their cases need to be expedited through speedy trials. It should be checked that in cases lodged against sections (such as in Official Secrets Act, Passport Act etc.), if maximum imprisonment (on award of sentence) have been completed (during under trial period), then such under trials should be freed. Same should be asked with Govt of Pakistan to replicate.